On my first visit, Bar Louie showed off its most appealing sports-bar side. It was an away-game day, and the place has eight huge TV monitors placed around the attractive, cavernous, dimly lighted room. The music is deafening, but the communal roaring, moaning, and gasping of Wolverine fans at each completed pass and heartbreaking fumble easily overwhelmed the sound track. We got in the spirit with a couple of tailgater-type appetizers. The Szechuan rib bites were meaty and succulent, although the sauce seemed at once a little too sugary, a little too salty, and a little underspiced. The Buffalo wings were dry—my goof, as I’d ordered boneless—but here again the flavors were both excessive and muted: not enough fire and too much salt on the chicken; not enough tang in a blue-cheese sauce that was more like cottage cheese dip. My drink orders weren’t much more successful: I had to send back a glass of undrinkable Sauvignon Blanc, and the Chardonnay the server brought in its place was only tolerable.
On later visits I stuck with Bell’s IPA—a $2 bargain during happy hour, weeknights from 4 to 7 p.m. On Tuesdays there’s also a decent $1 burger after five o’clock. Trimmings are extra, so the burger tab can easily run up to $2 or even $3, but even so, you can theoretically have a beer and burger for less than $5. Of course, you’ll likely spend more on drinks while you wait for a seat—when we got there around six, the place was packed. The crowd did start to thin out between seven and eight, and as crowds go, it’s an easy one here—all ages, all castes, all unpretentious.